[Essay] Describing the Surface: David Foster Wallace and Postcritical Reading — Nathan Moreau


I wrote this essay’s first draft by hand with a pencil because it is the first academic writing whose work I want to do and feel happening with my body. When I write on a computer, I revise each sentence compulsively, invisibly. This is the habit of my academic thought. It is rigorous. It is painstaking. It produces insights. It is tortuously slow. Maybe it only feels tortuously slow because, on a computer, I cannot see it happening. I have always begun my attempts at writing fiction and poetry by hand because I want to know how they happen. This desire is a habit of reading creative work that has become a habit of writing creatively. I think the most captivating thing about art is how it happens. How it happens synchronically. What happens when it happens diachronically. How it happens differently to different kinds of readers. How different kinds of readers happen to it. What happens when these happenings happen to each other.

All my questions about art eventually become a variation on this last question: what happens dialogically between an artwork and its reader/viewer/perceiver? And this is why I begin creative work in longhand; longhand is an embodied record of the initial collision that takes place within and through my body, in the tensions of my muscles, in my thumb’s knuckle’s right hand’s right-hand angles and the perpendicular points of my first and second fingers under two over-extended third knuckles—my pencil-grip leaves no slack in its unconscious earnestness for blood to keep flowing. With a grip common enough to have its own verbal adjective, I am white-knuckled, too transparent for polite company and strangers I want to take me seriously, too common to be interesting, too apparent to be written about academically.

The record left by longhand is messy and unanticipated, unbalanced and ugly, struck-through and double-crossed, unsophisticated and underway. It does not reveal the progress of thought. Rather, it exhibits something of thought’s unformatted motion and emotion through mind and meat. There is something postured in it—something of fatigue and something else of freshness, some angle of the ligamented shiver between my elbow and metacarpals, involuntary and yet no less embodied, some reciprocal pressure between pencil and page and the blunt hurt under my right shoulder that still feels the edge of my girlfriend’s tub in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from the night last June when I slipped in the shower and failed to break my fall. Despite my best efforts to stretch and strengthen and become once again uninterrupted by pain, I am still falling, and there it is—stupidly, embarrassingly, irrelevantly—in the way I sit in a straight-backed chair, in the unequal weight I place on my left elbow against the table-top, in my longhand.

Writing about writing the first draft of this essay in longhand is part of the experiment of this essay. It is an experiment in description. Although the process of my longhand is not visually evident in the typed essay you are reading now, it is not hidden: the photograph above is of the first page of my first draft and I began by describing my longhand partly to make this point. The longhand draft does not interest me as some bedrock of ‘original thought’, the nascent roots of later sophistication, or else as some fertile stockpile to be plundered and elucidated in the name of genetic criticism. Derrida rejected the longstanding argument (which he linked to thinkers as varied as Plato, Rousseau, Saussure, and Levi-Strauss) that speaking is a near-pure conduit for thinking, while writing, at two removes from the purity of thought, is a debased form of speech.[1] I am less concerned with longhand’s removal from the progress of thought than with how honestly it records a first attempt at articulating unwieldy and unresolved affect. In other words, longhand interests me for what it shows on the surface. Longhand interests me as a surface. Because longhand is the surface of description—a surface on which my first attempt to articulate myself is imprinted in a combination of mental effort and physical force, scrawled out and crossed out and rearranged and overwritten until I can convince myself that I know what I mean and have said it well enough to understand myself later.

Critique, a method of interacting with texts that currently dominates the academy and which, until recently, I understood as synonymous with serious scholarship, has little time for surfaces. As Rita Felski explains, critique often imagines reading as ‘an act of digging down to arrive at a repressed or otherwise obscured reality’ within texts that inherently possess ‘qualities of interiority, concealment, penetrability, and depth’.[2] When the practitioner of critique does attend to surfaces, it is to ‘render them improbable through the imperturbability of her gaze’ and, in doing so, to ‘“denaturalize” the text, to expose its social construction by expounding on the conditions in which it is embedded’.[3] My longhand draft is messy, chaotic, and compelling in a way that does not meet the beliefs or expectations of critique. It is a surface in the process of imagining its own depths, one which yields nothing to attempts at critique because it conceals nothing in itself, has no depths to expose, and instead necessitates an earnest, descriptive engagement with its superficial happening. For, in this instant that my first draft preserves—at the unsophisticated, ugly, embarrassing surface of description—a longhand thought’s superficial happening is its only happening.

I began this essay in and about longhand because I am interested in what possibilities such a depthless surface as a metaphor for a purely descriptive space might hold for the kind of thought we judge to be rigorous, academic, and thus, in scholarly and intellectual contexts and communities, worthwhile. My small contribution to exploring this question is one of praxis. In the following pages of this essay, I will attempt to describe my recent affective, volatile, personal and, many would likely argue, ‘un-academic’ response to reading a chapter from Amy Hungerford’s book, Making Literature Now, entitled ‘On Not Reading DFW’.

My ideas about description and what I try to do with it are indebted to Felski’s notion of ‘postcritical reading’ as a generative alternative to critique where ‘rather than looking behind the text—for its hidden causes, determining conditions, and noxious motives—we might place ourselves in front of the text, reflecting on what it unfurls, calls forth, makes possible’.[4] Felski’s emphasis on re-inscribing the critic’s presence in the act of engaging with texts is central to my own attempt to describe my response to Hungerford’s chapter postcritically. Felski cites the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Bruno Latour, among others, as key precedents in the on-going effort to point out the limits of critique and search for alternatives. While this essay is far less sociologically-minded than Latour’s thinking on why critique has ‘run out of steam’, my demonstration of affective description as a viable academic practice echoes his view that academia needs forms of inquiry that, unlike critique, are ‘associated with more, not less, with multiplication, not subtraction’, capable of ‘generating more ideas than we have received’ through renewed investment in ‘mediating, assembling, [and] gathering’.[5]

The relationship between my approach to description and Sedgwick’s ‘reparative reading’ is less straightforward. On the one hand, my method’s preoccupation with embarrassment, disillusionment, and anger radically inverts Sedgwick’s emphasis on affection and affinity between reader and text as key motives in reparative efforts. On the other, my radical openness to both be surprised by my own reading and writing processes and engage them postcritically through descriptive attention exemplifies and even intensifies Sedgwick’s ideas:

[T]o a reparatively positioned reader, it can seem realistic and necessary to experience surprise. Because there can be terrible surprises, however, there can also be good ones. Hope, often a fracturing, even a traumatic thing to experience, is among the energies by which the reparatively positioned reader tries to organize the fragments and part-objects she encounters or creates.

Like Felski’s postcritical reading, my experiment in description builds upon Sedgwick’s ideology but does not enact reparative reading as such. In this sense, my method is both a departure from and a successor to Sedgwick’s approach. Instead of attending to the text as the object a (reparative) reader wants to ‘assemble’ and ‘offer an inchoate self’, I attend to the affective dimensions of reading and writing in an attempt to assemble them more realistically and productively than critique can accommodate.[6]

Finally, my approach also has roots in Heather Love’s call for scholarship grounded in analysis that is ‘close but not deep’ in a way that ‘undermines the ethical charisma of the critic’ by ‘refusing the role of privileged messenger prescribed by hermeneutics and emphasizing instead the minimalist but painstaking work of description’.[7] Radically extending Felski and Love’s focus on description and efforts to imagine the critic’s role not as interpreter of but as co-actor with the text, I describe my own affective ‘reading’ processes and responses to Hungerford and Wallace. In doing so, I explore the possibilities of reading/describing from a place of scholarly vulnerability.

*   *   *

I cannot effectively communicate the weight of my affective response to Amy Hungerford’s ‘On Not Reading DFW’ without first describing the extent of my past engagement with and enthusiasm for Wallace as writer and person. Hungerford’s ‘DFW’ is, of course, David Foster Wallace, the contemporary/postmodern American writer best known for his very long, heavily footnoted, famously difficult novel Infinite Jest, who hanged himself in 2008. Until recently, I was a typical Wallace fan. And by typical, I mean manic. I devoured his work and paratexts, wrote my undergraduate dissertation on Infinite Jest and Don DeLillo’s Underworld, and spent a week in the archives at the Harry Ransom Center studying the over one hundred letters Wallace and DeLillo sent to each other during their decade-long correspondence.

If I exceed the DFW-fan mould through the intellectual work I have done on his fiction, it is only in the extremity of my engagement, in which case I am simply an exaggeration or caricature of the mould that reinforces its truth as a stereotype. In terms of my sexual orientation, race, class, education, nationality, and gender, I am also a typical fan of DFW; I am a straight, white, middle-class, university-educated, American man. Furthermore, I am typical in that my enthusiasm for Wallace is not merely, or indeed even mainly, intellectual; what has primarily fuelled and periodically renewed my scholarly engagement with Wallace over the last few years has been my consistent emotional investment in his fiction as a whole and in Infinite Jest in particular.

It is interesting to me now, having recently taken part in a graduate seminar open to the productive possibilities of affect-based and postcritical approaches to literature, that, even though my strong affective response to reading Wallace was what sustained my enduring interest in him and longstanding academic engagement with his work, I never once seriously considered writing about this response or otherwise exploring my emotional investment in itself. This is interesting to me but not surprising. I spent the vast majority of my time as an undergraduate writing essays built around close readings so microscopically attentive to the text that they were practically vacuum-sealed to it, precluding every criticism by leaving nothing in the way of breathing room. I found this practise to be an elegant and practically unassailable way to elide the messy subjectivity of my personal presence from my papers and enter into the dispassion of academic discourse, through which I could be free to engage the text directly in a voice that most readers take as ‘serious’ and ‘rigorous’[8] on the grounds that most readers have encountered many times over and are prepared to take as read its implicit mantras:

  1. I observe things about the text
  2. I reproduce the text for you to observe these things for yourself, under my direction
  3. I conclude things about what the text does and how it works based only on what I have directly observed and which you, by now, have also observed
  4. In the process of reading closely, I make no claim that I cannot defend with one or more direct references to the text
  5. Even if you, my reader, end up deciding that, after taking all of the above measures, I still fail to procure an objective critical voice, you at least cannot deny that it is abundantly clear my argument deserves to be taken seriously

My addiction to the persuasive stance of this ‘academic’ voice, widely taught and rewarded at my undergraduate institution and in English departments across the US and the UK, left me without a vocabulary for describing my emotional investment in Wallace—an investment that was neither hidden nor ambiguous but definite, robust, readily accessible. It was always present, obvious, on the surface and at the heart of my interest and somehow the same in both places, troubling the assumption that academic interest implies the presence of depth(s) to be plumbed and, via said plumbing, revealed. To reveal, expose, or otherwise critique my affective attachment to Wallace would be less than interesting; it would not mean anything. It would be meaningless because affective attachment happens in an entirely different frame of reference from the one with which my dispassionate, critically observational voice was designed to be compatible. A voice dedicated to observing itself disassemble a text from an eyelash-width away as a measure to ensure the success of its own critique has nothing to say about an interaction with a text that does not leave me with the need to take the text apart or view it through a particular, critical lens. It has nothing to say about an affective connection to which I feel too close to describe with my current vocabulary.

This essay is an attempt to write my way into, or at least towards, a descriptive vocabulary of feeling. The impulse to do so now, however, comes not from the desire to describe how Wallace’s fiction emotionally resonated with me and how this fuelled my intellectual engagement with his work. Rather, it comes from a need to describe my affective response to reading Amy Hungerford’s ‘On Not Reading DFW’—along with fourteen other, also primarily affective, responses by women to David Foster Wallace[9]—and the extent to which I now feel embarrassed and deeply disturbed about my longstanding enthusiasm for Wallace. Finally, it is an attempt to examine how I managed to gloss over much of the rampant misogyny and toxic masculinity that permeates both his writing and his biography. I am not writing this essay because I think my disillusionment as yet another straight, white, male reader is unique, revelatory, or even interesting. I want to try to put this process into words because describing my affective response to women’s affective responses to David Foster Wallace is the only potentially productive and morally tolerable way in which I, as a straight, white man, can imagine examining my own past emotional engagement with Wallace and his writing.

Before outlining Hungerford’s argument, I would like to quote from some of the other responses by women to David Foster Wallace that mediated my own response. For those unfamiliar with the emerging pushback against Wallace and the wider institution of literary chauvinism with which he is quickly becoming synonymous, the following appraisals provide a good introduction. In a review of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Deirdre Coyle responds to the collection’s central conceit: ‘It is enraging to have a straight man tell me a story about straight men telling stories to a woman about straight men acting like shitheads. I understand that this is the point of the text’.[10] On the other hand, Megan Garber adds, ‘women’s stories get treated as one of Wallace’s trademark footnotes might be: decorative, dexterous, whimsical, trivial. Pretty afterthoughts. Optional’.[11] Stepping back to consider Wallace’s entire oeuvre, Devon Price finds that ‘[e]ssentially none of his work (except for a short story about a lesbian couple in Girl with Curious Hair) features female characters with agency…Women seldom have voices in his nonfiction, either. The one essay where he is joined by a witty, outspoken female companion (“Ticket to the Fair”) has been revealed as fiction—the woman didn’t exist’.[12] ‘And this,’ interjects Molly Fischer, ‘may be what drives some women to treat “loves DFW” as synonymous with “is one of those motherfuckers”: the sense that Wallace’s status depends on something in which their participation is tacitly not required, a clamoring among men for one another’s esteem’.[13] A line from Erin Spampinato’s ‘Literary Roots of the Incel Movement’ provides a succinct summation: ‘the patron saint of elevating male bullshit: David Foster Wallace (don’t @ me; I don’t care)’.[14]

In ‘On Not Reading DFW’, Amy Hungerford argues that people in general and academics in particular should stop reading and teaching the works of David Foster Wallace partly because there are so many other, better writers they could be reading and partly because of a confluence she identifies between misogynist language and attitudes in Wallace’s writing—specifically in how he articulates the reader-writer relationship—and his abusive behaviour toward women throughout his personal life.[15] This behaviour, as I first learned in D.T. Max’s biography of Wallace and Hungerford reminded me, includes sleeping with his female students at Illinois State University, having sex with women (some of them underage) who attended the readings he gave during his nationwide book tour to promote Infinite Jest, seducing and taking to bed many women from his Alcoholics Anonymous support groups, attempting to push one of his girlfriends from a moving car, stalking the writer Mary Karr (with whom Wallace became infatuated and obsessed) for nearly a year despite her repeated requests that he stay away from her, throwing a coffee table at Karr in one fit of rage, and, finally, making an appointment to purchase a firearm with which he intended to shoot Karr’s husband so that she could be with him and thus satisfy his infatuation/obsession (Wallace ultimately thought better of this scheme and did not keep the appointment).[16]

The fact that I was at first persuaded to adopt Hungerford’s extreme position but now, after further thought informed by fourteen other responses by women to Wallace (some via Hungerford), disagree with her conclusion that we should simply refuse to engage Wallace critically (or otherwise) is not important to this essay. I could trace the progress of my rational thought from my resolution to eradicate Wallace from all of my present and future involvement with literary studies, to how Clare Hayes-Brady and Erin Spampinato showed me both the rational backwardness of this initial reaction and the need for new, ethically-grounded approaches to Wallace’s writing. I could articulate how my present take on the ethics of scholarly engagement with Wallace relies on Hungerford, Hayes-Brady and Spampinato’s arguments, among others, but has since taken root somewhere between them. I could write this kind of essay about my process and it would be rational and sequential and convincingly crafted and maybe even interesting to read. If I am honest, though, all of these descriptors and the many others I might have used should be condensed to a single one: legible. That is, legible according to established patterns of rigour and frameworks of complex, nuanced thought with which all of my readers are familiar because long ago we decided to call them ‘academic’. Though useful for many kinds of scholarly inquiry, these patterns and frameworks are poor tools for encountering the affective weight of my own academic project; I let them pass by.

Risking the label of ‘egotist’, I could even include psychoanalytic readings of the long and, for me, seminal phone conversation I had with my girlfriend after finishing the Hungerford article, of my initial feeling of lightness and something like relief at ‘outgrowing’ a problematic literary hero immediately after this conversation, of why this feeling triggered laughter and what was bound up in the release of my laugh, of my internal agonising the next day over how to move beyond the gaping absence left by my intellectual and personal rejection of Wallace, of why my agonising evolved into uncontainable anger at Wallace as a person and (more specifically) as a man, of why I enacted my anger by impulsively destroying one of my three copies of Infinite Jest, of why I photographed the 1,079-page mess covering the floor of my room and sent the image to my girlfriend, and, finally, of the no doubt complex psychological reasons for why I felt much worse after doing this than after ripping apart the book. Although this reading apparently foregrounds the felt dimension of my process, its fixation on what motivates, lies beneath, and therefore can be exposed for the purpose of explaining the hidden components of my affective experience means I can identify it as a variation on the kind of close-reading voice currently approbated by the academy—a voice that is, above all else, designed to take-apart, dig-beneath, and bring-to-light, all the while virtually invisible and therefore virtually incontestable.

I am not interested in writing an essay that is legible in the way these alternate versions of this essay are legible. I spent time and graphite and ink and paper and actual money (to use a college printer) on describing two versions of this paper that I am not going to write as an invitation to consider how their legibility depends on a fabrication of process. In both of these versions, every aspect of my process that is messy, chaotic, irrational, embarrassing, unsophisticated, superficial, etc. is elided through some form of substitution, sublimation, deferral, or displacement. Reviewing the many times I have made use of these methods in the past, I am fascinated at just how far they go to avoid earnest description. I might even go so far as to suggest that the organising concern of these thought-forms and the discourse that follows from them (and, indeed, what they do best) is the avoidance of description-in-earnest. Such an act of describing, especially when the topic is one’s emotional investment in or affective response to a piece of writing, makes the practitioner vulnerable—vulnerable in a way that most self-respecting, academic criticism deplores and, in deploring, dreads.

I am trying to embrace this vulnerability through just this kind of earnest description—that is, in my case, description that is an attempt to chronicle and, in chronicling, communicate the happening of an affective response rather than pinning down the origin and impact of this happening. This is why I am writing my way towards a descriptive vocabulary of feeling: the vocabularies of critique, in its various forms, have failed the earnestness of my descriptive need. I dedicate the following and final portion of this essay to the project of exploring how the practice of descriptive attention and awareness can engage the vulnerability of unresolved affect and active emotional investment and, in doing so, enable new ways of thinking, new kinds of thoughts, and the revision of what counts as rigorous, worthwhile, academic inquiry.

*   *   *



IJrippedupi                          just                                   ripped                                    it                                       up

i rip.
i rip (a fellow of
infinite jest…)
to bits.
(he hath bore me
on his back
a thousand times,
and now how
abhorred in my imagination
it is!)[17]
and so now i
rip it up
(infinite jest)
and so now
infinite jest

would have been a much cleverer confession/epitaph than the text I really sent her, which actually read, and I quote:

text 1                             and she replied                    text 2

But the text I sent is honest and I have no brain- or body-cells leftover for cleverness. I am angry. I have been betrayed, I have betrayed myself, and I am shaking with rage and embarrassment just exactly as they do in the cliché. I retrieve the book from the bottom of a pile of irrelevant others and rip it down the middle. My hands are strong. It is easy. I hurl the halves away and take a few deep breaths. I have never hurt a book before. I dive down after the pieces. This is not a memoir because I don’t know what is going to happen. This is not fiction because I am not trying to figure it out. It might look or sound like one or the other or neither but this doesn’t matter. I don’t care what you think. Your annotations are useless. What matters is that I have the halves in hand again and I’m holding so hard that my hands hurt. I don’t know what I’m doing. The paper does a dry, scratchy squeak as I white-knuckle it; my grip leaves no slack in its unconscious earnestness for blood to keep flowing. David Foster Wallace never hurt a book in his life.

I rip the halves down to size, one size closer to the Amy-Hungerford-regulation-size that Ashlie M. Kontos might have imagined (mockingly) near the end of an argument that won’t trade away ‘Dickens, Rushdie, Hemingway, Kerouac, etc.’ for a world where we refuse to forgive and live with misogyny[18]—but I am sick and tired and disgusted by ‘yes, but’ arguments and I don’t stop there. I shred the bits of the book I’ve been crushing in my fists. I pick up those bits and shred them again. David Foster Wallace spent most of his life in libraries.[19] His primary addiction was to television.[20] David Foster Wallace never hurt a book in his life. It doesn’t matter if it’s true. I snatch up still-intact pages at random and crumple them dead. The text-ridden refuse blankets my carpet, a pile of dirty snow in harsh orange lamplight (see photo). I root around for the front and back covers. I deface them both with equally untoward thoroughness, relishing the tense ache in my knuckles and the pull of sore forearm muscles. I think of Mira Gonzalez and Jamie Loftus, the ‘Two Women Hell Bent on Destroying Infinite Jest in Bizarre Ways’ (including by turning it into, among other things, cool outfits, eggs, and lasagne), and reflect that my way is neither bizarre nor even remotely creative. I step on some pages on the way to the sink to scrub off the ink now permanently imprinted into the grooves of my fingerprints. I briefly consider urinating on the pages.[21]

I reflect that my destruction of Infinite Jest is not only un-bizarre and uncreative but a stereotypical manifestation of male rage and all it stands for. I include this reflection in my act of description not to name an origin but to invoke a comparison of processes—and also for the sake of accuracy: this bit of self-analysis was an organic part of my process. I am disturbed by the uncontrolled destructiveness of my anger and feel complicit in what I am denouncing. I am a straight, white man. I am a man. I am complicit in what I am denouncing. The conclusion to my essay has no critical bone in its body. What do you feel about this? David Foster Wallace almost always referred to his reader as ‘she’.[22] David Foster Wallace fucked his students, fucked his audience, fucked his reader. David Foster Wallace abused women. David Foster Wallace spent most of his life in libraries. David Foster Wallace never hurt a book in his life. What do you feel about this?


Nathan Moreau is a writer based in Maine.


[1] Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).

[2] Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 53.

[3] Felski, 54.

[4] Felski, 12.

[5] Bruno Latour, ‘Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern’, Critical Inquiry, vol. 30, no. 2 (2004): 248, accessed July 19, 2020, doi: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/421123.

[6] Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, ‘Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You’re so Paranoid You Probably Think This Essay is About You’ in Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), 146, 149.

[7] Heather Love, ‘Close but not Deep: Literary Ethics and the Descriptive Turn’, New Literary History, vol. 31, no. 2, New Sociologies of Literature (2010): 387, accessed July 19, 2020, doi: http://www.jstor.com/stable/40983827.

[8] I draw here on Felski’s questioning of the belief that inquiry grounded in critique is guaranteed to be more ‘serious’ and ‘rigorous’ than other methods. See: The Limits of Critique, 5–6.

[9] See bibliography for the full list.

[10] Deirdre Coyle, ‘Men Recommend David Foster Wallace to Me’, electricliterature.com, https://www.electricliterature.com/men-recommend-david-foster-wallace-to-me-7889a9dc6f03, accessed July 19, 2020.

[11] Megan Garber, ‘David Foster Wallace and the Dangerous Romance of Male Genius’, theatlantic.com, https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/the-world-still-spins-around-male-genius/559925, accessed July 19, 2020.

[12] Devon Price, ‘A Brief on Hideous Things About David Foster Wallace’, medium.com, https://www.medium.com/@dr_eprice/a-brief-on-hideous-things-about-david-foster-wallace-72034b20de94, accessed July 19, 2020.

[13] Molly Fischer, ‘Why Literary Chauvinists Love David Foster Wallace’, thecut.com, https://thecut.com/2015/08/david-foster-wallace-beloved-author-of-bros.html, accessed July 19, 2020.

[14] Erin Spampinato, ‘The Literary Roots of the Incel Movement: Our Canon of Sad White Men’s Literature Reinforces the Idea that Male Sexual Deprivation is a Public Concern’, electricliterature.com, https://electricliterature.com/the-literary-roots-of-the-incel movement-4ba183b9c9c5, accessed July 19, 2020.

[15] Amy Hungerford, ‘On Not Reading DFW’ in Making Literature Now (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016).

[16] D.T. Max, Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace (London: Granta, 2013), as quoted and paraphrased by Hungerford in ‘On Not Reading DFW’, 144-156. Although my focus is on Wallace’s abusive behaviour towards women, it’s important to note that women were not the only recipients of his abuse. Wallace also expresses racist views in his essay ‘Authority and American Usage’, in which he says he will ‘make’ an African-American MFA student learn ‘SWE’ (‘Standard White English’) as a form of forced assimilation (David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays [New York: Abacus, 2007], 77).

[17] William Shakespeare, Hamlet, ed. Cyrus Hoy, A Norton Critical Edition, 2nd ed. (Norton: New York, 1992), V.1.159-161.

[18]Ashlie M. Kontos, ‘The De-democratization of Reading: Amy Hungerford’s Objection to Reading DFW’, dfwsociety.org, https://www.dfwsociety.org/2017/06/21/the-de-democratization-of-reading-of-reading-amy-hungerfords-objection-to-reading-dfw/, accessed November 17, 2018.

[19] David Lipsky (quoting Wallace speaking about himself), Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace (New York: Broadway Books, 2010), 58.

[20] Lipsky (also quoting Wallace speaking about himself), Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, 144.

[21] Mira Gonzalez, ‘Two Women Hell Bent on Destroying Infinite Jest in Bizarre Ways Join Forces’, broadly.vice.com, https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/bjxdkz/two-women-hell-bent-on-destroying-infinite-jest-in-bizarre-ways-join-forces, accessed November 18, 2018.

[22] Clare Hayes-Brady, ‘Reading Your Problematic Fave: David Foster Wallace, Feminism, and #metoo’, humag.co. https://humag.co/features/reading-your-problematic-fave, accessed November 18, 2018, eighth paragraph.


Coyle, Deirdre. ‘Men Recommend David Foster Wallace to Me’. electricliterature.com <https://www.electricliterature.com/men-recommend-david-foster-wallace-to-me-7889a9dc6f03. Accessed July 19, 2020.

Crispin, Jessa. ‘Enough David Foster Wallace, Already! We Need to Read Beyond Our Bubbles’. theguardian.com. https://theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2017/apr/21/enough-david-foster-wallace-already-we-need-to-read-beyond-our-bubbles. Accessed July 19, 2020.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.

Felski, Rita. The Limits of Critique. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Fischer, Molly. ‘Why Literary Chauvinists Love David Foster Wallace’. thecut.com, https://thecut.com/2015/08/david-foster-wallace-beloved-author-of-bros.html. Accessed July 19, 2020.

Garber, Megan. ‘David Foster Wallace and the Dangerous Romance of Male Genius’, theatlantic.com. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/the-world-still-spins-around-male-genius/559925. Accessed July 19, 2020.

Gonzalez, Mira. ‘Two Women Hell Bent on Destroying Infinite Jest in Bizarre Ways Join Forces’, broadly.vice.com, https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/bjxdkz/two-women-hell-bent-on-destroying-infinite-jest-in-bizarre-ways-join-forces. Accessed July 19, 2020.

Green, Karen. Bough Down. Catskill, NY: Siglio Press, 2013.

Hayes-Brady, Clare. ‘Reading Your Problematic Fave: David Foster Wallace, Feminism and #metoo’, humag.co, https://humag.co/features/reading-your-problematic-fave. Accessed July 19, 2020.

Hungerford, Amy. ‘On Not Reading DFW’ in Making Literature Now. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016. 141-168.

Karr, Mary. ‘Suicide’s Note: An Annual’. Poetry, vol. 200, no. 5 (September, 2012), 460 <https://www.jstor.org/stable/41702805&gt; Accessed December 2, 2018.

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